Lamb

Vampire Owl: I think that they are talking about the Vampire Lamb.

Vampire Bat: A Vampire Lamb from Iceland? That is new.

Vampire Owl: We never had any Vampire Lamb so far?

Vampire Bat: Lambs do not usually go well with the vampires.

Vampire Owl: What about a black lamb with fangs?

Vampire Bat: We already lost the Vampire Wolf to the werewolves. We don’t really need another animal.

Vampire Owl: Wolves belonging to that side of the border. It is not the case of others.

Vampire Bat: You think that every creature other than a wolf would declare allegiance to the vampire kind?

Vampire Owl: I don’t see why they wouldn’t do that.

Vampire Bat: Well, what about the reason that they don’t really need that?

[Gets a paneer paratha and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: Somewhere in the remote area of Iceland, a strange entity seems to make its way to a barn which is located a long distance from the traces of civilization. With the terrifying climatic situation, things seem to get worse. The owners of the barn, Maria (Noomi Rapace) and Ingvar (Hilmir Snaer Guonason) soon finds one of their pregnant sheep giving birth to a creature with a lamb’s head and human body, along with its other children. The two takes the creature into the house and names her after their dead daughter, Ada. The creature’s biological mother keeps trying to contact her, and as she is later found with the sheep, Maria shoots the mother sheep and buries it in a grave further away. Despite having some nightmares about sheep, Maria takes very good care of Ada. Ingvar’s brother Petur (Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson) who arrives at the barn witnessing the incident feels that this newly found creature is only an animal, and wishes to get rid of it, to which the couple doesn’t agree at all.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Petur who always had certain love interest with Maria, decides to get rid of Ada for the best interest of everyone in the house, even if other won’t recognize the same. He takes her on a morning walk in the early morning, hoping to shoot her dead and bury the body far away. But he has a change of heart decides to become the uncle-figure to her – Ada also gets along with him really well. But soon, things seems to get different, and something creepy seems to make its way home, which Ada seems to notice. Petur is still fond of Maria, and after drinking a little too much that he should have, makes sexual advances to her, even using the secret that he knows, that she killed Ada’s real mother. She sends him away on the very next day. With only Ada and Ingvar left around there, the strange entity makes its first appearance. What does this creature want, and how can Ingvar and Maria defend against it? What are the secrets that Ada holds here? What fate awaits the couple and their half-sheep child?

The defence of Lamb :: Powered by the performance led by Noomi Rapace who is one of the best actresses of all-time to be part of movies like this, this film can be considered as thriving on the atmosphere on which it builds its pillars. It is indeed a strange movie when we look at it – there is a creature with a lamb’s head and a human body, and it is raised as a child by humans; not the usual kind of story that you keep seeing around. It has a certain horror side, but also an emotional one, all of them being present there, often in an indirect manner. It deals with the strange nature of people, and their lack of understanding of the realities which they face. Providing the feeling of a pastoral world well enough, it provides a certain amount of haunting experience with the slow movement forward too. It wouldn’t have been that easy to work on this material, but with the right cast and the visuals that work perfectly with the atmosphere, the movie manages to march on. It is a reminder that almost everything in life comes at a price.

The claws of flaw :: Lamb is one movie which has decided to go very much divergent, and there is not that much of horror to celebrate it. The film deviates from the general idea about the genre which comes out from movies like The Conjuring, The Nun, Annabelle, Ouija, Insidious, Sinister and others which work on a formula which has been tested and appreciated by too many people who have identified themselves as fans of the category. Moving away from the original horror ideas, and leaving less to be scared, this wouldn’t be that much appreciated by such fans. Along with the same, the ending doesn’t bring that huge effect which was expected. The movie could have been better marketed as a drama thriller indeed, as one creature which does so less has its limitations. Also, the movie slows down a little too much for anyone’s liking, and it is only right to feel that the movie could be twenty or thirty minutes short in length. The grief in this movie could have been also more evident.

The performers of the soul :: Noomi Rapace is one actress whom we can always rely on. The Swedish actress might be best remembered by the people in this part of the world for her work in Prometheus, and she is no stranger to playing motherly figures, as we have seen the same in Angel of Mine. She has a similar mother role here, and she is as determined as she was in that movie. As we miss seeing her in Alien Covenant, and as a good number of her movies didn’t come here, we can only be glad to watch this particular performance from her, which deserves the appreciation too. Most of you might still remember her for the Millennium series: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. Well, as the mother who takes care of her lamb girl child, this is another work which you are going to remember her for. Hilmir Snaer Guonason plays the father figure very well too – after all both parents are part of this lamb love. Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson makes a good contribution in between too.

How it finishes :: The movie seems to have similarities to another flick, Sacrifice, with the atmosphere which is seen around. Even though an English movie, it is also set in such a Scandinavian world. The themes of loneliness and depression, as well as a reflection of people who treat their pets as kids also seem to have some say around here. The story seems to have taken something from the Icelandic folklore too, and the one other movie which seems to stay close to this one is The Witch. The film doesn’t use that many dialogues to make its point, and that would mean that even without subtitles, you can understand most part of the flick. The movie surely had the positive opinion of critics, and was selected as the entry from Iceland for the Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards which took place in Los Angeles in 2022. So, you know that this movie surely has enough to make an impression – it is a mystery set far away from the everyman’s busy world that will have your attention early.

Release date: 24th September 2021
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Valdimar Johannsson
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Hilmir Snaer Guonason, Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson, Ingvar Eggert Sigurosson

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Antlers

Vampire Owl: I haven’t seen a more interesting poster in a very long time.

Vampire Bat: Horror does need such posters to show divergence in fear.

Vampire Owl: Fear should always be the same, right?

Vampire Bat: Unless you are a vampire, or maybe zombie.

Vampire Owl: You are talking about a different smell of fear.

Vampire Bat: You should be aware of the fear potions of the witches.

Vampire Owl: Those potions never really work.

Vampire Bat: I know that you trust the pseudo-scientific elixirs of Mr Frankenstein better.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein has opened portals with elixirs.

Vampire Bat: Those were ancient portals found hidden in the caves beneath the castle!

[Gets a red velvet cake and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: In the beginning, there is a warning that Mother Earth has been pillaged, with her life’s blood taken away, and this terrible act has awakened a spirit which needs to be feared – it would seek the lost, frail and the depraved, and asks the viewers to hope and pray that it won’t take one among them. The scene cuts to Cispus Falls, a small town in Oregon which feels dark with an eerie feeling. There, in an inactive mine, Frank Weaver (Scott Haze) runs a meth lab within an inactive mine which used to serve the town’s economy a long time ago. Frank and his co-worker hears some strange noises from within the mine, and goes on to check the same. As they doubt that it is an animal and tries to escape, find themselves attacked by an unseen creature. Frank’s son Aiden Weaver (Sawyer Jones) waits for him outside the mine, failing to understand what has happened inside. His elder brother as Lucas Weaver (Jeremy T Thomas) is considered to be strange by his classmates and teachers, but Julia Meadows (Keri Russell) who teaches about myths and fables is determined to help him.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Julia remembers the abuse she suffered as a child in the hands of her alcoholic father who was also mentally ill – she feels that he is also suffering from something similar. Paul Meadows (Jesse Plemons), her brother is the local sheriff – she had abandoned him a long time ago, but has now returned home from California following the death of their father. She feels that she shouldn’t have left the place, and tries to help another person as she can, this time, Lucas. She tries to bond with him, but there is no success at all – she tries to visit his house, but leaves after hearing some strange noises from inside. Lucas seems to have some some mystery locked within his house, and also takes dead animals and birds to his home. He stays awake at night and makes strange drawings. Julia feels that she really needs to get to the bottom of this, and also informs her brother, who reaffirms that Frank was considered fit to be the guardian of the two children after the mother’s death – now, what would she do?

The defence of Antlers :: It can be seen that Antlers does take the deviation from the usual horror, and this divergence is taken seriously throughout its narrative – it lets the surroundings contribute to the same really well. The environment and the setting serve effectively for the movie too. The small town with its dark and wet weather really suits the situation presented around here, and there is enough of the woods to keep one going in the mood of terror. The idea of the “diabolic wickedness that devours humans”, the spirit that takes many forms, makes a powerful myth around here. There is also a connection made to the destruction of nature which the humans managed to come up with. One wouldn’t be able to blame the monsters considering how evil the humans happen to be at every point. We also have the moments of scares, and that gets stronger with the understanding that there is a seemingly unstoppable force of nature at work. Add the performance, especially from children, and things only get much darker and scarier in nature.

The claws of flaw :: There is no doubt about the fact that Antlers had the premise to be something greater, but doesn’t use the same to the best of advantage. We do see the moments which we feel could have been better. When you have such a near-unstoppable monster at the centre, there are many things that can be done – it could have surely been designed better too. The emotional side doesn’t seem to work that much, even though we are waiting for those elements to be effective too. The myth could have also been given a boost with certain elements from the past, and a history to be remembered. One can generate enough fear out of that too. The scope for sequel at the end seems to be forced, as if there was a certain need rather than anything else. One can feel the need to remind the viewer of a myth that goes missing, but that requires more of a better origins story with roots in a mysterious past – let the horror run through there too.

The performers of the soul :: Keri Russell has been among my favourite actresses from a long time ago – she carries a certain amount of charm with her roles, even though horror hasn’t been the genre we would remember her the most for. She would make it to the list of performers who don’t seem to age much as years pass. She blends in really well as this protagonist who has her own problems from childhood itself. Jesse Plemons supports her really well as the brother figure and the policeman. Jeremy T Thomas gets his moments as the struggling child who is forced to make too many decisions at such a young age. Scott Haze gets into the terrifying moments around here well. Sawyer Jones plays the other child of significance in a role which brings a fair challenge to him. Amy Madigan ends up having a smaller role to work with than what was expected. Rory Cochrane’s work is another thing of support here. The monster when shown, works as a performer by itself.

How it finishes :: Antlers keeps on moving the world of horror forward in a different path for a change, and the world of fear continues to make its points in one way or the other. One does feel that the Malayalam movie Odiyan could have learned a few things from this one with the creature attacks and the atmosphere to make it darker – if you see the looks, there seems to a visual connection. The earlier divergent horror movies like Malignant, Lights Out, It Follows and Don’t Breathe had scored better, but this one tries to make it count. Maybe, something like the creature in this movie is the need of environment itself to take care of the humans who are destroying nature as we have known it. Well, Corona virus did try, but they were not successful in getting rid of humanity and its use of science to destroy environment. It does make us feel that there can be the moment when nature can get it back running – The Blackout surely made us think about human extinction. Until something like that happens, let us enjoy this horror out of nature.

Release date: 29th October 2021 (Theatre); 15th December 2021 (Hotstar)
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed by: Scott Cooper
Starring: Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T Thomas, Graham Greene, Scott Haze, Rory Cochrane, Amy Madigan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Come Play

Vampire Owl: Strange people calling us to play at this point of time. Why?

Vampire Bat: Yes, I think that they are the brain-repaired zombies.

Vampire Owl: So, zombies now have their brains repaired?

Vampire Bat: Yes, they manage the repair with the brains that they eat.

Vampire Owl: I am still not sure why they would want us to play with them though.

Vampire Bat: Well, they want our vampire brains for further repair.

Vampire Owl: In that case, I would tell them to find some of those evil humans.

Vampire Bat: Well, evil humans are easy to find. We can refer them directly.

Vampire Owl: Yes, almost every one among them qualifies as evil according to the definition.

Vampire Bat: Let the zombies and humans meet each other soon enough through the next viral apocalypse.

[Gets a vegetable samosa and three glasses of oreo shake].

What is the movie about? :: Oliver (Azhy Robertson) is an autistic boy who cannot talk either, and uses a smartphone so that he can communicate with people. One night, he finds an app on his mobile named “Misunderstood Monsters” which talks about the story of a monster named Larry who is different, and therefore nobody wants to be his friend, even though the only thing that the creature wants is friendship. He does have his own episodes of screaming at night, and his mother Sarah (Gillian Jacobs) has some tough time with it. She also feels that her husband and the child’s father Marty (John Gallagher Jr) is just not doing enough for the troubled child, as he is almost always working. Oliver is troubled by his classmates who don’t like him as he gets special treatment due his disabilities. They also try bullying him, and also takes away his mobile phone, throwing it into the field near the school. At the same time, the relationship between Sarah and Marty only gets worse.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Sarah is not happy because she feels that Oliver only likes Marty, because he is the earning member of the family, and always brings the child the presents. As the tablet which Marty brought for him as a present identifies someone else with Oliver in the room with its face recognition software, there seems to be something wrong. The tablet actually starts talking to him using the same app which he was using to talk to others, and it identifies itself as Larry, who just wants to be a friend. As Marty who is bothered by Sarah’s talks finally decides to move out, the latter organizes a sleepover to help Oliver to become more social. But the chosen friends are the boys who had earlier bullied Oliver. Oliver hides the tablet as he is afraid of it, but the other boys find it, with a boy reading the story. It leads to Larry appearing, and things, as expected, can only get worse. But who would believe that Oliver is not responsible for all that is happening in house, and that there is a supernatural force at work?

The defence of Come Play :: There are some interesting scares added here and there in the movie, and some of them are more effective than the rest. The darkness and the sound effects are used well, as the visual effectiveness gets only better at the later stages of the film. The demon at work here is pretty good, and the idea that it can be seen in its original form through the tablet opens another dimension for horror very well. The idea of loneliness being spread through technology feels real, and as part of our present world. The demons from inside the technology – social media and the internet, mobile phones and laptops, they are all more real than ever. They might not be having an exact form these days, but they are present at all times, and even in the absence of the supernatural, the human evil shows its presence. Come Play’s monster can also be seen as a reflection of such evil humans, and the film also scores with a fine emotional side. It is not that easy to escape from such realistic monsters.

The claws of flaw :: Come Play could have added more effective creature horror rather than focusing more on those quick scares, and use of divergent creatures is nothing new, as we know from movies like Lights Out and It Follows. One does feel that something better could have been added with the creature detail, as better design only means the possibility of something better around here. With such a premise, it is not ready to take the risk, and that is surprising, because there was a lot that could be done with this particular monster. It could have gone beyond one family, and maybe it could have also had a background story – instead, we go for the safe zone with singular focus around here. An appearance of the monster at school, or at shops would have also been useful. The ending of the film also seems forced, and it doesn’t try to take a peek into the other dimension. All the build-up surely required more than this, as we look close here.

Performers of the soul :: Gillian Jacobs is very effective in becoming the motherly figure in a horror movie, and seemingly suiting the horror genre well. She is the one person who is there throughout the film as a mother who tries to understand, and is also the kind of person who would suit a horror film with younger cast, as she looks very much young. She does shine as the mother who has made some mistakes in the past, but does love her child and is ready to make all the sacrifices for him, as she also gets certain emotional moments which are of quality. John Gallagher Jr joins as the father figure well enough too. There are some moments for him too, especially with the creature making it to him. Azhy Robertson plays the child in trouble well, and Winslow Fegley plays his friend without much trouble. Some good performances from children also means that the horror story has better strength. The monster here is a fine performer all by himself, but a creature of electricity is surely capable of more – maybe the creature required a face too.

How it finishes :: Come Play might be a lesser known horror film in comparison to others, but is one effective work anyway. When children are involved, and when there is a monster from another dimension trying to come in through technology, one knows that this cannot be of lesser horror, especially with so many more people getting into technology due to the Corona virus pandemic and the related lock-down, work from home, schooling from home and more. Another film, Chathur Mukham has also dealt with the same thing, in Malayalam. Demons as part of technology can only get worse – we have watched Pretham and its sequel too. Let us have as many monsters are we need, because humans and the one virus spreading all over the world has made it much worse for the world. At least these monsters stick to a routine, but not those whom we see in real life. If you are looking for a similar movie with children and demons, you might also want to watch the Spanish film, Don’t Listen and the Korean one, The Closet.

Release date: 30th October 2020
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Jacob Chase
Starring: Gillian Jacobs, John Gallagher Jr, Azhy Robertson, Winslow Fegley, Rachel Wilson, Jayden Marine as Mateo, Gavin MacIver-Wright, Eboni Booth, Dalmar Abuzeid

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bali

Vampire Owl: I have heard that there is always a perfect time to begin something.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is time, and this will be the first Marathi film to be reviewed here.

Vampire Owl: Where does that leave us with the different language films being reviewed?

Vampire Bat: That would have us with more films than we had expected in the beginning of the year.

Vampire Owl: When they make a film with the name Bali, that is quite nostalgic, isn’t it?

Vampire Bat: I don’t think that Bali is open for international tourists yet.

Vampire Owl: Well, vampires are never international tourists.

Vampire Bat: We do come from a different realm, and so we are international.

Vampire Owl: So, we do have our own passports? I have never come across one.

Vampire Bat: Just use your fangs to make it work as required.

[Gets some banana chips and three glasses of chocolate shake].

What is the movie about? :: Shrikant Sathe (Swapnil Joshi), a widowed father is living his usual happy life as a happy single father with his only son Mandar Sathe (Abhishek Bachankar) who is a lot into playing cricket at school, and the father is completely in support of whatever he does. The father-son bond goes quite deep, and they are more or less like friends. Mandar also prefers to have his father with him all the time rather than his friends. When the seven year old boy faints during a cricket match, and is taken to hospital for a detailed diagnosis, things change. The two are referred to another hospital which has all the required facilities, and has a famous specialized department for children. They have an appointment with Radhika Shenoy (Pooja Sawant) who asks them to go for some more tests to make sure that there is no serious problem due to him having continuous breathing problems. Radhika feels that nothing could be wrong with the boy who looks alright, and the tests are just precaution.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Mandar meets a boy who is admitted in the hospital due to cancer, and is going through terrible pain in the stomach. They become good friends in a short period of time, and leaves the hospital’s main area to go to the deserted part of the hospital which is undergoing a certain amount of maintenance. They were supposed to play cricket and also meet the nurse whom the boy considered to be his mother, Elizabeth D’Souza (Shraddha Kaul). Soon, the boy is taken into a room in the abandoned area, and is found dead with many wounds and bruises on his body, and the doctors consider him to have fallen down and hurt. As he is admitted in the hospital as a result of seeing the dead boy in the operation theatre, Mandar starts talking to the mysterious nurse, and he also considers her as a mother-like figure whom he can contact at any point of time with a mobile which he discovers in the room. It turns out that there is something about the entity known as Elizabeth which the hospital hiding. Who is she, and what does she want?

The defence of Bali :: The film has just enough scares out here, and there is also one fine mystery to go with the same. There are also some nice twists around here to go with the horror. The background to the ghostly figure, even though becomes predictable at times, is nicely created with those twists added. The final moments’ twist is indeed a nice one, and the way it is presented is also nice. The movie also talks about a few things which have the possibility of happening in the medical field, and it does serve as a warning about the same, as greed for money is something which has taken over both the medical and educational field. Even though the latter can have other options, we are always tied to the requirements for medical treatment, and these types of revelations are often the need for the time, even though there is only a rare chance of the same happening. It never hurts to be warned about the terrible possibilities, and you know that the world around you doesn’t work on righteous, but on selfish requirements of money and fame.

The claws of flaw :: The name of the movie did give me a confusion, as I felt that there was something about the place in Indonesia, and maybe this film is about the place – obviously not knowing the language has its own confusion for us who are watching such films due to the release happening in Amazon Prime Video. It could have surely included more horror, and with the building being such a fine location and having the perfect atmosphere, it could have used the same to the best advantage. The message could have also been made more loud, and the background story could have had a longer time spent on the screen. The film also takes some time to get us interested enough, as the entity is often avoided rather than being scared of. Some of the moments here could have been straight to the point, and as far as ghosts are concerned, the one here could have surely had more here with its existence in the abandoned building. The ending can also feel to be a little bit rushed, instead of raising the level there.

Performers of the soul :: Swapnil Joshi plays the concerned father very well, and Abhishek Bachankar plays the child nicely, getting into the bond in a fine manner. The leading actor is the one who has to do all the work while dealing with the spirit, and in doing the same, he is surely at a fine level. In the end, it is Pooja Sawant who gains all the attention, as she plays a character who has her own secrets, and there is more to her than what is seen in the early stages of the film. Both the male and female lead are not those whom most of us who haven’t watched a Marathi movie are not familiar with, but we would love to see them in movies of other languages too. Rohit Kokate who plays another doctor has also done some solid work in support. It is difficult to connect the performers with roles for us, because enough information is not available anywhere, and we are not aware of the Marathi film industry. Yet, it can be safely said that the movie has pretty good performances from almost everyone, and this is a job well done in that case.

How it finishes :: Coming from the same director who came up with Chhorii, the film which had different ideas about horror, this one also has us interested early enough. Horror in India has always been struggling with its limitations, but this one has managed to rise over the same, and has even come up with a message, which reminds one of the Malayalam film, Joseph. This one has the eyes of horror set in the medical field, and a certain amount of greed and pride that takes the central stage in those private hospitals which are always looking for money and reputation to be at the top. Further talk about the same would reveal a little bit too much about the story and the twists which it is supposed to take, and therefore it is up to you to watch this one and understand more about it. After all, horror at a hospital can bring more than what meets the eye for us, and the spirits that live in any medical centre can be of further interest.

Release date: 9th December 2021
Running time: 104 minutes
Directed by: Vishal Furia
Starring: Swapnil Joshi, Pooja Sawant, Pritam Kagne, Samarth Jadhav, Rohit Kokate, Sanjay Ranadive, Shraddha Kaul, Abhishek Bachankar, Mahesh Bodas

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Swarm

Vampire Owl: I can feel the presence of some vampirism in here.

Vampire Bat: You are not talking about vampire locusts, are you?

Vampire Owl: Well, all kinds of vampiric creatures are welcome to our realm.

Vampire Bat: I don’t think that locusts need any special welcome.

Vampire Owl: Everybody needs to be welcomed to the realm.

Vampire Bat: Except for the Corona virus.

Vampire Owl: Who is going to welcome a virus at this point?

Vampire Bat: We cannot be sure about that. Humans are crazy enough.

Vampire Owl: Humans can always be crazier.

Vampire Bat: You can trust them to do that every time.

[Gets a chicken cutlet and three glasses of orange shake].

What is the movie about? :: Virginie Hebrard (Suliane Brahim) is a widowed mother who has been unsuccessfully raising locusts for proteins, and it is not something which brings her favourable returns. Their family used to have goats around earlier, and her children, Laura Hebrard (Marie Narbonne) and Gaston Hebrard (Raphael Romand) are pretty much embarrassed by the business of locusts, with people ridiculing the same, including people at their school. As the locusts are not active enough, and with a lower level of health and reproduction among the insects, the family struggles to go on. Soon, she becomes more and ore frustrated, as people wouldn’t buy the locusts at even lower rates. As she trashes the locust enclosure and passes out there, she finds out that locusts are eating from the wounds on her arm. Soon enough, she finds out that the locusts are now more active, and lets the locusts feed from her wounded arm.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Laura is not happy about how things have turned out though, as with everything going well out there and locusts doing better, they will have to continue to stay there. Her hope that they can finally sell the farm and get away from the place is no longer there. She tears open one of the greenhouses, leading for a swarm of locusts to escape. This escaped swarm would make sure that there would be enough supply of blood for them. That wouldn’t stop her from being more and more obsessed about the locusts. The need to feed them more blood comes to the picture, and she is ready to take further risks for the same. At the same time, all these affect her relationships with people around her, including her children. But is it too late for all of these to change now? How much more the locusts will take out of relationships and in the form of blood and flesh?

The defence of The Swarm :: The drama side of the movie is okay, even though they haven’t really tried too much with the characters. There is the feeling of melancholy that runs through the movie, and most of the characters do have a certain amount of the same. There is just enough CGI and gore to keep the interest going. The setting is very much suitable for such a story, and we know that this is even more possible these during the time of Corona virus pandemic, where there is always mutation and people also get to live more alone than ever, facing even more financial crisis than ever. This is not a full insect attack movie, and people will have to remember that while choosing the same – for those who are looking for such full attack films, there are others from the second half of the twentieth century which was never short of such horror attacks from different creatures. Otherwise, you do watch this one as a drama with some insect horror added.

The claws of flaw :: A problem with this particular movie is that it losses its power as a thriller and horror flick, and gives in to the drama all the time – whenever there is a chance to make this one a horror thriller, it goes down to the state of a common drama about a widowed mother looking forward to make a living by farming. Well, a single mother with two children and financial struggles always make drama rise over any other elements of any genre. There could have been more interesting moments related to locust horror, or at least have some connection to science fiction. The characters and their relationships are also not that much explored, especially that of the daughter who could have had some life at the campus, even if not a positive one. It is certainly not what you expect when you go to watch the film, and the ending is also not that strong by any means. You can see some horror ready to go through the rails, but there is never the green flag, as we see a hesitation to let it go, while the movie slows down and drags at times.

Performers of the soul :: Suliane Brahim handles the role of the widowed mother in grief, trying to make her business do better, quite well. The attraction and the later obsession to the locusts which are shown by her, has something unique about it, even though it should have had more terrifying images than she presenting her body to feed for the insects in between – imagine the amount of horror which just that idea could have brought, but has been missed. Marie Narbonne is a lovely addition to the movie, and she plays the confused younger sister who hopes that things can get better if they leave the locust farm and home attached to it. The melancholy that she goes through is reflected on her face at almost all times, and the way she looks at people even with smiles, reflects a certain amount of sadness. Raphael Romand’s character remains a memorable one too. The one character who stands apart is Sofian Khammesas’s, as he plays the man who is always willing to help, a rare one during this age without faith.

How it finishes :: It is still a thing of wonder that this movie doesn’t redeem itself with thrills and horror when there was so much of an opportunity. While the drama goes on, the other elements lag, even though we feel that it scores a family adventure throughout most of its stages. It is the kind of movie which has the elements to confuse us about the genre in which it stays. One would feel that it could have worked even without focusing on the locusts, and maybe even after replacing them. It would have done fine enough by growing some of the more common things in the farm, as we look at them. On another day, this could be a full-horror movie with insect attacks, a thriller which has a family hunted, or a science fiction flick with mutated insects bringing something further terrifying. But it chooses to focus on the drama, and it suits one kind of audience much more than the others. As we are now in fear of the next mutation of the virus and wonders if everything has to go back to lockdown again, enjoy this one outside the theatres.

Release date: 1st August 2020
Running time: 101 minutes
Directed by: Just Philippot
Starring: Suliane Brahim, Sofian Khammes, Marie Narbonne, Raphael Romand, Nathalie Boyer

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Meander

Vampire Owl: I remember having met an elf with a similar name.

Vampire Bat: Well, this is certainly not a fantasy movie.

Vampire Owl: Elves are as real as we are. None of us are fantasy.

Vampire Bat: Well, for humans, we are all fantasy elements.

Vampire Owl: The girl on the poster does look very much real.

Vampire Bat: You surely cannot say the same about her surroundings.

Vampire Owl: The poster here doesn’t seems to mean anything.

Vampire Bat: It could be a reflection of the useless lives that the humans lead.

Vampire Owl: Well, with the terrible mindset that they have, what else can they do?

Vampire Bat: They could always choose to be extinct and save the planet and the other life forms that live without hate.

[Gets a vancho cake and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: Lisa (Gaia Weiss) who works as a waiter is seen lying in the middle of a road in the countryside until a car arrives from a distance. She starts walking, but the man in the car, Adam (Peter Franzen) who works as a night watchman offers her a lift, as there is nobody nearby, and there is no hope of finding civilization soon enough. They seem to get along well enough, and Lisa is disappointed about her daughter’s death – she realizes that the girl would have been nine years old on that day if she was alive. There is the feeling of melancholy that runs through her, and she hopes that she could die one day and unite with he daughter again. It is then that it turns out that the man who is with her is a murderer, and the police is in search of him, as she realizes the same from the news on the radio. But the realization comes a little late, as he slams her head against the dashboard of the car, leaving her motionless.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Lisa wakes up in a small room which seems to have no way out. She is clothed in a strange suit which tightly fits her body, and a strange light-emitting device is attached to her wrist. Later, a door on the side opens and reveals a narrow tunnel through which she crawls with great difficulty, and the door closes right behind her, leaving her trapped inside on her all fours. She has no option, but to continue crawling, trying to find and exit which could lead her to freedom. The device on her wrist also seems to have a timer and alarm, as it seems to remind her of time running out, as she has to go squeeze through extremely narrow passages, as she moved towards light. As the roof of the tunnel comes down, almost catching her buttocks stuck within, that would be only the first of the challenges that she would have to overcome, soon to be followed by a rotten body, water, acid and others.

The defence of Meander :: Almost whole of the movie has just one setting around here, and it has also dealt with the same effectively. There are some fine traps in here, and the more terrifying thing is that they are all within a crawlspace, with the chance of escape being really minute – I wouldn’t give most of us any chance with this, but we root for the lady in distress here, as we are more confident about her getting through, even though not as much as Prince of Persia or Tomb Raider would. Here, in between, we come to know that there is more to all of these than what meets the eye, and that there is something beyond our comprehension, most probably supernatural or paranormal at work. The same is revealed in the end, and it means that we have further scope for a sequel here. After all, this kind of a premise, like that of Prometheus and Alien Covenant, even though lesser in grandeur, can have many different paths to follow. The mysterious feeling never really leaves us.

The claws of flaw :: Meander is surely not the usual kind of a movie, and it goes divergent from even any other possible film who can deal with a similar circumstance. It doesn’t have much more than what it provides here, and leaves us with minimal settings. People who don’t wish to see one person trying to fight it all to make the way out of a long crawlspace won’t find this one to be of their type. Even though this is supposed to be science fiction, the same type of elements show less of a presence around here. We also feel that this could have been better, more direct in what it does, because you know how these have worked really well with the video games. There could have been direct ideas provided here, and even though there could be symbolism being connected here, there is not much that we can use directly. We do have many films with one actor getting all the focus, and others being almost absent – Sunny is a recent example, and this one could have done more with the one character other than the trap escape acts.

Performers of the soul :: The movie has only two actors, and it is more or less about Gaia Weiss, who is there for the whole of the movie, and works through it very all, as her character keeps trying to survive against all odds. She nicely fits in here, and one would feel that if there is a full action film coming soon, she could be right in there, doing a great job. She plays the character that has do the impossible, and she does some fantastic work as the one person who goes through all of these. To add to it, there is also an emotional side to her character, which is also portrayed well. Peter Franzen also has some work to do, but he has a very less time on the screen. Basically, we can say that everything is left to Gaia, and she becomes the sole pillar on which the movie depends on, as far as performances are concerned. She never looks like she is going to lag with that much of a weight on her. Not many people could have handled the same so well too.

How it finishes :: Meander makes a fine French movie that has different elements coming together even with almost everything set in one particular place. It is all about survival, set in a seemingly difficult situation, much scarier than The Shallows where we know the enemy, and much hopeless than The Platform in which there was at least the certainty of food and a possible companionship. Unlike the rest which has some hope for its protagonists, this one is at an advanced level of leaving almost no chance to survive, like a hopeless level of The Maze Runner. As a film which gives you claustrophobia, this one is surely an experiment which you might want to remember for long. As the lady moves through this particular crawlspace world, you are into some slow and effective moments of thrills, unlike the ones that we usually see elsewhere. It is that tale of survival which once again has the protagonist fighting against all odds, and we are all hoping for her to survive.

Release date: 11th October 2020
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Mathieu Turi
Starring: Gaia Weiss, Peter Franzen

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Home

What is the movie about? :: Oliver Twist (Indrans) is leading a normal life with his two sons, Antony Oliver Twist (Sreenath Bhasi) and Charles Oliver Twist (Nalsen K Gafoor), his wife Kuttiyamma (Manju Pillai) and father (Kainakary Thankaraj) who has memory problems. Oliver and Kuttiyamma are also feeling the problems of their old age. Antony is trying to be successful in the film field, but he is too busy with social media that he doesn’t complete the climax of the script, much to the dismay of the producer, Baby (Maniyanpilla Raju) who keeps asking if something can be done about it. His time is running out, as it has been two years after he started writing – he had directed his first film to a grand success, and this time, nobody is sure that he will finish it in time. At the same time, Charles’ interest in social media only, and nothing else is on his list of interesting things. He keeps putting Instagram stories at all times, and during the rest of the time, he is mostly sleeping.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Finally, Antony decides to return home to finish his script, and for the same, he returns home with a seven day deadline to complete his script. There he finds out that Charles is vlogging at all times, and doing nothing else. His life is highly digitalized, and he is happy to keep himself online instead of talking to anyone in the family. Antony is no different, even though his parents remember that he used to be a different person before leaving them for the city. Antony is in love with Priya (Deepa Thomas), a relationship which has lasted very long, but now he is too bust to return her calls. Her father, Joseph Lopez (Srikanth Murali) is a very rich and influential man, popular at all places. Oliver hopes to be friendly with his sons, but they don’t have that much of an interest in talking to the elders. Often, they even ignore Oliver as if he is not a part of their life. Oliver hopes that things will change, and he goes on with his life, with that wish, but Antony has very low opinion about him, and is often hostile towards him too.

The defence of Home :: There are many things which are reflections of real life incidents in the film, and one often wonders if they have come across such incidents before. Social media addiction has been an effective theme, and these days, anyone is a vlogger on Youtube, and with many followers, they think that this is life. People have been bothered more about what happens online rather than offline, and in the same the real world is forgotten, a reflection of the same is reflected here. The message about mobile phones stealing our valuable time is also provided nicely. It adds a few things about loss of relationships and health due to the use of smartphones and social media among the youth. The film, even though set most in a home and its surroundings, is visually too good, not just inside the house, but also during the outside moments. There is a lot of beauty on the screen that surrounds everything, and occasional humour adds on well. Then, there is the ending that conquers all, emotionally as strong as it could be.

The claws of flaw :: There is a lot of repetition which happens in the film, and it is surely a slow work, as we look at it. Some of the emotions are added here and there as if it was just there for the sake of it, and some incidents just become random part of the same. This comes from the man behind Philips and the Monkeypen and Jo and the Boy, and we can see similar elements being repeated here. It still doesn’t have the charm or quality of the former, which was one of the best movies released in the year, seemingly bringing a certain amount of magic to the screen. It also has its length extended a little too much, and with too many songs being added here and there, it does feel a few minutes too long. There are moments in between when we feel that this was going nowhere nowhere, and it was going to go on with the same kind of thing again and again. There are so many things coming up, and often it does seem to miss the main point, but there is the ending that brings things together.

Performers of the soul :: Indrans was earlier seen in two very serious roles this year with two films, Malik and Yuvam, playing the roles of a police officer and an advocate respectively. This one is a light-hearted, but yet emotional role for him, and having come out of fully comic roles, he has been doing this really well. This is indeed a very heartfelt performance from him, and with him at the centre of a family movie, this will be remembered as he celebrate forty years in Malayalam cinema industry, in his 341st movie in the long career. We are finally able to see him throughout a mainstream film in the lead role, and also with the most emotional touch, as he basically lives through here. Sreenath Bhasi had some very serious roles in Virus and Kumbalangi Nights not too long ago, and he now has a rather lighter version here – he had come out of that earlier “freakan” image a long time ago, and this one has him in a controlled role. Nalsen K Gafoor who was last seen in Kuruthi with all the seriousness, and earlier in Thanneermathan Dinangal with all the humour, can be seen in a realistic role of a youngster in this film, and he once again scores big. The simple comic side that he adds here brings more life to the movie.

Further performers of the soul :: It is also nice to Manju Pillai having a good role to play in a film, as we have been seeing more in the television series and comedy shows of Mazhavil Manorama. She has blended into this role really well, and one would wonder why she was not that much in similar roles before. We have always loved to watch her in Thatteem Mutteem for a long time. There are also some nice dialogues that reflects the mood of the film. Deepa Thomas has her first leading role, and she has comes up with a memorable performance too. She has indeed provided a natural performance, and we look forward to seeing her in more roles, and with more screen space in comparison to what is seen here. Srikant Murali also has a role to remember here. Anoop Menon’s act is also a good one, while Maniyanpilla Raju also drops in here and there. Vijay Babu’s role might seem very small, but is still one role that also makes a difference, with a lovely touch of humour. Johny Antony, as usual adds more humour here, while KPAC Lalitha who comes in the final stages of the movie has something special to add. Priyanka Nair also has a fine role in the flashback.

How it finishes :: Home is a movie for the present families, which are not short of this kind of a situation at different homes, due a new generation of kids who are addicted to gadgets and moving away from parents both physically and mentally. It will be remembered for some moments for the heart. The feel-good elements from the director’s earlier films can be seen reflected here, and the same kind of reflections can be seen visually too. Vijay Babu has provided us with so many of similar movies, and we have always stayed close to most of them. During COVID-19 times, having a feel-good film to watch with family was always going to be good. The messages that the film provides are effective, and leads to that one final message which raises the level of the film. Do look out for the final scenes with credits too, and it is where the movie brings a little more for the soul. So, we have our Onam movie on Amazon Prime Video, and as you watch the same, I wish you a Very Happy Onam in advance!

Release date: 19th August 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: Rojin Thomas
Starring: Indrans, Sreenath Bhasi, Kainakary Thankaraj, Naslen K Gafoor, Manju Pillai, Deepa Thomas, Vijay Babu, Srikant Murali, Johny Antony, Anoop Menon, Maniyanpilla Raju, Aju Varghese

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sara’s

What is the movie about? :: Sara (Anna Ben) needs to get many things right, and making a name in the film field is only one of them. She has her own set of beliefs, and is not ready to step away from them, no matter the cost happens to be. From her school days itself, she was afraid of having a child, and she maintains that aversion throughout her life. She is bothered by her father Vincent’s (Benny P Nayarambalam) constant requests to get a boyfriend, without which they will come up with a match themselves. It is then that she meets Jeevan (Sunny Wayne), who had left his job in Bangalore and returned home, presently taking care of his sister’s children. When the two meet later, they are united by their lack of interest in having children, and decide to fall in love. They feel that there is a connection between them, and the two decide to wait for a few years before they marry – she hopes that she can study him well during that time, and also get her new movie going.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Their world consists of only the two of them, and they hope to keep it the same without any unwanted trouble. But when their parents come to know about the relationship, things don’t go that smoothly. They are forced to get married too soon, but the two decide to go with the flow without resisting the same. Sara continues to try and get her script accepted by a producer willing to let her direct the film. At the same time, Jeevan goes back to job again. Sara is disappointed by her inability to convince the producers, but things get only worse for her when she gets pregnant. All the relatives come to know about it, and their happiness is only matched by Sara’s disappointment. She hasn’t changed a bit as far as her ideology about children is concerned, even though Jeevan is now not sure. The equations have changed now, and what they had thought earlier might not work any longer.

The defence of Sara’s :: There can always be something about feel-good movies, and that something is carried over here too, with the feeling being too good. Jude Anthany Joseph’s mastery over the same is something on which everybody would agree. The emotional side is strong, and the light-hearted elements with the usual touch of humour works really well here. The reflections of the usual life and the disagreements between generations can also be seen in the flick. It is to be noted that the light-hearted feeling is maintained throughout the film, and it never slips away from the same during its two hours of seemingly perfect run-time, even though it deviates a little bit. As a female centered film, the protagonist does have more to tell you than what meets the eye. There is the requirement to understand that the purpose of marriage is not to have children as soon as you are married, and that parenthood is a responsibility for which everyone has to be prepared well. When people have children in less than an year after marriage, and when they choose to keep having more and more of kids almost every year, it is strange. There is always an intellectual purpose in life as far as humans are concerned, and it is being left behind by these people, both men and women. This film should be an awakening for them, as well as for those who marry early, without maturity coming to them. In India, as more the youth is more dependent on parents it takes them about twenty eight to thirty three years old to be really mature. It is surprising to see some people getting married at the age of twenty one and eighteen, and the recent cases on suicides in the name of domestic violence and dowry were all from those who married too early, especially without the women not being allowed to complete their studies or work freely.

The claws of flaw :: Sara’s could have been more with its ideas, and there was also a chance to add more of light-hearted comedy with those usual kind of situations. You are never really short of some feel-good ideas in our world, and chances for humour were many, but not many of them are taken. It often struggles to make comedy out of silly stuff. The movie should have actually released one day earlier during the weekend, and it would have had more viewers due to the weekend lock-down being imposed, and this flaw in release date will decrease its viewers by a considerable number. These are the kind of choices which make sure how many people watch the film from an OTT platform. Also expectations after Jude Anthany Joseph’s previous movies were very high, and this one has to match that, but this one is more about the ups and downs. This one is certainly not that much fun in comparison with the earlier films, and we also have a little bit more of an emotional side at work here. The final moments seem to have gone for the quick solution, instead of making things innovative. The film is also too materialistic in its viewpoint with main characters going for the selfish motive, the kind which won’t hesitate to cheat and murder if needed, and its heroine wouldn’t be ideal in a morality tale, but as she is shown as a person interested only in films, maybe she is more of a reflection of people in who are part of movies rather than common people. After all, it is difficult for the protagonist to understand that she is not an island, but it is to be noted that the people around her matches her in being judgmental.

Performers of the soul :: With his third venture which seems to resemble the earlier successful works from him, it is Jude Anthany Joseph who has our attention here, more than the main actors and actresses of this film, and it is with high expectations that we are watching this particular flick. The work of Anna Ben remains the same, natural, and perfectly suited for a role like this. Kumbalangi Nights and Helen had her realistic acting skills bringing some surprise to us. This time, we are having exactly what we expected from here, and one more natural performance brings us an lovable film. She is the one actress who makes the perfect new generation star who blends in so well with the roles given to her. Benny P Nayarambalam, Anna’s real-life father plays her father in the film too, and that is indeed a nice addition to the movie. Siddique is also there, and you know what to expect when the veteran actor is once again there, and doing his usual stuff – he has more or less become an integral part of the feel-good Malayalam movies of these times.

Further performers of the soul :: Sunny Wayne is here in a film which is not centered on him, but that comes as no surprise to him, as he was the hero in Annmaria Kalippilaanu, but was not the protagonist there too. He was very good in the earlier supporting roles, and with different roles like the villain in Kayamkulam Kochunni and the surprise entry in June, he is known for these kind of roles more than for being the sole hero in flicks like Alamara and a number of lesser known ones. Before this film, we had him everywhere with that song “Kaamini” in Anugraheethan Antony due to the producers of Chathur Mukham failing to bring it to OTT platforms at a time when films like Cold Case, Drishyam 2, Mohan Kumar Fans, Nizhal, The Priest, Aarkkariyam and Joji scored so high in Amazon Prime Video, Nayattu in Netflix and Kho Kho with Operation Java in ZEE 5. It is also good to see Mallika Sukumaran going through her usual kind of work, and we also see others who have much less to do in here, even though they all form a part.

How it finishes :: This is the third film of Jude Anthany Joseph after Ohm Shanthi Oshaana and Oru Muthassi Gadha, both of those movies being excellent feel-good entertainers, and the former had also won the Best Film with Popular Appeal and Aesthetic Value at the 45th Kerala State Film Awards, as well as making sure that Nazriya Nassim earned a Best Actress Award too. So, this one certainly came with high expectations, especially considering the fact that Anna Ben is a more complete actress in comparison to those who were part of his earlier ventures. The expectations do provide some good results here, as Sara’s is indeed a movie to watch without having too much of the emotional feeling while dealing with similar topics and its light-hearted take on the usual kind of stuff and with a desire for change in the attitudes of the society makes it an interesting watch during these days which still continue have a certain kind of COVID-19 lock-down restrictions going on here and there. Therefore, the audience of all age groups can give it a chance.

Release date: 5th July 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Jude Anthany Joseph
Starring: Anna Ben, Sunny Wayne, Dominic Arun, Siddique, Srindaa, Margret Antony, Siju Wilson, Dhanya Varma, Benny P Nayarambalam, Mallika Sukumaran, Prasanth Nair

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Demon Eye

Vampire Owl: This was the name of that artifact which the northern witches used.

Vampire Bat: You mean to say that they were in contact with the demons?

Vampire Owl: Well, aren’t they supposed to be so?

Vampire Bat: They are usually in contact with those who rise from the grave.

Vampire Owl: Well, this is just one portal away from that.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but the demons are not really the undead in any way.

Vampire Owl: You do have something against some popular demons.

Vampire Bat: No, I am not talking about those tik-tok using humans.

Vampire Owl: At least, that episode is over for now.

Vampire Bat: You should know that demons, the masters of hell are not to be treated without extreme care.

[Gets a chocolate cake and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: Sadie (Kate James) haven’t been in good terms with her father John (Darren Day) for a long time, and never really picks up his call, until one day, she decides to do just that. But she hears some stranhe noise from his room, and he quickly cuts the call, citing an emergency. This is the last time when Sadie sees her father, and the next thing he knows about him is that he is dead. Much to everyone’s surprise, he is supposed to have committed suicide by hanging. This forces Sadie to come back to the house, which is in a remote location, and has nobody else to take over the same. There she meets the man with whom the house keys were left with, Dan (Robert Hamilton), and Sadie feels strange to be at that house which has her old dolls and cameras being set in every room, corridor and staircase. Dan also leaves a job for her in a newspaper, passed on to her by her father who had worked there until his death.

So, what happens with the events here? :: She is immediately hired at the newspaper as a photographer, and finds Dan in an awkward position with Faye (Ellie Goffe) who is supposed to be his fiancee. Dan and Sadie get their first assignment to interview Craig (Liam Fox), a local man who is supposed to have seen The Burning Girl (Alannah Marie) – it was part of a folklore which was supposed to have become reality for some people. There is the legend of the Demon Eye that goes with it, as a girl was burned as a witch a long time ago in the name of causing a famine which she had predicted with the help of an amulet some time ago. But on the way, she sees a fire and a person standing in it, and as she tries to take a photo, the battery goes down. Even while interviewing, she gets into a fight with the man whom she was supposed to interview. She is confused about all the information she had managed to get from different people about her father who she hated. Is there a secret to be unveiled in relation to her father’s death?

The defence of Demon Eye :: We have been falling short of some interesting horror movies, and then this one comes up. It is that movie which deals with its subject in a slightly different way, and the subject itself has more than one angle to take care of. The quick scares are all there, and the most effective one is with a severed head in the bath-tub, then there are hands coming from under the bed, hellish hound kind of thing and the usual burned face with all the creepiness that it can have. The length of the movie is also less in comparison, not going to even ninety minutes, and it does make the most of it, with not having much from the dull moments there. The atmosphere is also good, with a setting in the middle of nowhere, with vast landscapes inspiring dark folktales all around. There is always something about focusing on the folklore, whether it is real or not. This setting will impress you, and with moments to remember, makes its point really well.

The claws of flaw :: Among the horror movies these days, Demon Eye is the one which is rather less known, or not known at all at this part of the world. It should have still achieved more with the premise – you know that with the title itself and also with the idea which is being explored here. Whenever there is a demon involved, you can take it further with ease. The demons might have been less scary in comparison to pandemics, but they are not yet completely out of the equation. We have so many moments which could have been something bigger, but manages to adjust with what it has, not trying to raise the bar. The effects of the low budget are there too, even though they have partially overcome that. The ending of the movie also felt a little rushed, because a horror movie like this requires something bigger, and the case of the climax is also the same. The main character also required to make more out of the situations here.

Performers of the soul :: Kate James plays the protagonist in this movie, even though IMDb hasn’t really listed here at the top, or with a photo. Even though there is some struggle in the beginning stages, she plays the character really well, and only gets better in the later stages. She is part of almost every scary scene in this movie, and the best one is that of the bath-tub with the severed head, even though more could have been done with a character like hers. Her portrayal of the troubled character who need psychiatric help from the early stages is believable, without being melodramatic. The other actors don’t seem to try too hard, but manages to hold on. She is way ahead in that case, when we look closely. The other young lady in the movie is the next person to catch our attention, even though she is not there for too long on the screen – Ellie Goffe does a very good job too. Robert Hamilton, Darren Day and Liam Fox, all of them manage just enough here.

How it finishes :: There are always some interesting horror movies of interest, if we keep checking for them. Demon Eye can be on the list too, depending on your preferences, even though you can’t expect it to do too much with its content. This is the kind of horror movie which you watch on Friday nights for some fun scares, and for that purpose, this film is successful, leaving no doubts behind. With a fine premise, from a situation in which things could have gone much worse, the movie takes itself back to make sure that as a whole, it is a pretty good work. There might be a few things left unexplained though, but through the same, it leaves the scope for a sequel, even as we are not really supposed to expect one, considering the response it had received otherwise. Do add this to your horror collection, as one more demon, this time with another witch-hunting past, will bring the entertainment to you.

Release date: 26th April 2019
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Ryan Simons
Starring: Darren Day, Liam Fox, Kate James, Ellie Goffe, Jimmy Allen, Alannah Marie, Robert Hamilton

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Wretched

Vampire Owl: These humans often refer us by this name.

Vampire Bat: Well, it is clearly wrong, as we are not in a wretched condition yet.

Vampire Owl: I am pretty sure that the humans are in a more wretched situation now.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the Corona Virus has gotten into them pretty badly.

Vampire Owl: I believe that they have always been wretched enough.

Vampire Bat: I wouldn’t say that for every one of them.

Vampire Owl: You have always been too kind of the humans.

Vampire Bat: And you have always been the cruel one.

Vampire Owl: Nobody in the known world are as cruel and wicked as the humans.

Vampire Bat: Now, this is something you don’t even say about the werewolves or zombies.

[Gets a green apple cake and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: A young girl names Megan (Sydne Mikelle) has a babysitting duty, only to find a creature feeding off the little girl, and as she tries to escape, it seems that Megan also meets a similar end in the hands of the demonic creature. Later we see Ben (John-Paul Howard), a youngster joining his father Liam (Jamison Jones), as his parents are in the middle of having a mutually agreed divorce. Ben gets to work in the local harbour in the countryside with his father on a temporary basis. At the same time, Liam is getting too close to his co-worker, Sara (Azie Tesfai) while Ben becomes good friends with a local girl working there, named Mallory (Piper Curda). Ben also can’t stop himself from noticing their new neighbours, Abbie (Zarah Mahler) and her son Dillon (Blane Crockarell). They do get lost in the woods, and Dillon gets called by a tree into the hole underneath, but they do manage to bring home a deer which their car had hit and killed, much to the dismay of Abbie’s husband Ty (Kevin Bigley). She tries to cut the animal for a dish, but messes it up.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Later, we see that a certain creature is coming out of the body of the deer through the cut which was made earlier, and Ben also sees something sitting on the rails of Abbie’s home – seemingly human, but something else in reality. It does disappear when the light goes off, but makes appearances inside the house of Abbie. Ben tries to mingle with the young people in the neighbourhood with a party, but is publicly embarrassed by the most desired girl of the locality JJ (Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden). As he returns home, he finds Abbie walking into the woods with her toddler, but is interrupted by Liam and Sara, leading to a dispute. Even though Abbie returns from the woods, she doesn’t seem to be the same. It doesn’t seem to be the usual trouble that haunts the small town, as there is more to it than what meets the eye. There is a force beyond one’s understanding, and if someone tries to solve the case, that person might be considered a lunatic. How many lives will be lost before such an evil vanquished?

The defence of The Wretched :: There is no doubt about this particular movie’s ability to score with the ambiance, as the setting as well as the neighbourhood where the people are living, can all be considered to be very much perfect. We have the small town where people are denying the existence of evil, but there has always been one in the woods, and a tree has been central to everything. To get to the depth of this evil, we have even more twisted ideas in there, and more of terrifying suspense will be revealed in the end. There are also some scares to support the same, and the nature around the place is indeed beautiful. It is more or less like a dark fairy-tale, as there are elements of a dark fantasy which runs right through. The characters are the kind of people whom you can relate to, and that makes the transformation caused by the witch feel even more real. After all, it is always nice to be taken back to the idea of that witch who used to haunt us during the childhood and reached as far as The Witch – until you had the older version of Evil Dead to scare you in the best possible way.

The claws of flaw :: It has to be noted that the movie does try to have a little too much than a regular witch story, which doesn’t always work in its favour. The mixture doesn’t make the best use of its elements, especially as there are so many things which a witch possessing a lady or two can do. The terror could have had even stranger forms, and it also takes some time to make one feel the seriousness of the same. Some scenes are also not needed, even in a movie which goes just above one and half hours. Some people can even find this movie to be confusing in parts, and the creepy poster doesn’t come up in there, which is also disappointing. The mask does come though, and just like the other elements related to the witch, there could have surely been more. The ending has also been left open, maybe for a sequel, but that would need more, and not just the type of material that we have here. There are also some characters who could have done more – some are just left not explored well enough, and we feel the need to see them more.

Performers of the soul :: It is to be noted that the main characters are driven by a terrifying feeling – if you die, and nobody remembers you, where you really alive? That existential crisis is first discovered by John-Paul Howard who plays Ben well enough, but the truth is that it is not just his neighbour who has forgotten his son, as the darker secrets are there to make him realize the terror further. He plays the curious youngster who understands things happening around better than the others, and he does that well. At the same time, Piper Curda remains very cute and brings a lot of charm to the movie – not your usual leading actress, she brings a few joyful moments here and there in what really is a dark movie as it progresses. Zarah Mahler is really good as the young lady next door who is possessed by the witch, as she makes some really scary appearances, and there are scenes with her skin ripping off, which takes it to another level. Azie Tesfai with that deer-skull mask on her face is joy to watch, even though it is only for a short period of time to make a good enough bad witch. Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden could have been there for more though.

How it finishes :: We have always had the supernatural creatures running around in different movies, but the witches have always struggled to keep it going in comparison to vampires, werewolves, zombies and other creatures of the dark who have been competing well with the demons and ghosts. But The Wretched does manage to bring some of such interest back to us during these days, as the witch gets her due, without a broomstick, staying close to an evil tree in the forest. It has enough surprises in there to keep the whole thing going, and with such a setting to help its cause, The Wretched is sure to take you to a world of forest’s witches whom we have known since childhood. You can always expect more, but this is indeed a good beginning to a type of horror cinema which hasn’t made that much of success in comparison to the others. After all, elves and similar creatures of light are not the only ones you keep finding in the middle of the forest.

Release date: 19th July 2019
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Brett Pierce, Drew T Pierce
Starring: John-Paul Howard, Piper Curda, Zarah Karen Mahler, Kevin Bigley, Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden, Richard Ellis, Blane Crockarell, Jamison Jones, Azie Tesfai

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Vivarium

Vampire Owl: I have heard that Vive la France is an expression used in France to show patriotism. Does the title have anything to do with it?

Vampire Bat: Well, I think that they have chosen an interesting name. It means an enclosure made for keeping animals in semi-natural conditions for observation or study.

Vampire Owl: It is strange, but I will agree to it. The name does catch one’s attention.

Vampire Bat: Do you wish to rename your vampires quarters with this name?

Vampire Owl: I haven’t even come close to renaming it. The present one is a highly intellectual one.

Vampire Bat: There is nothing intellectual about naming a home as mansion.

Vampire Owl: You will not understand. I have always wanted to have a mansion.

Vampire Bat: I will not understand such foolishness, ever.

Vampire Owl: I would rather be anywhere other than a vivarium.

Vampire Bat: Well, lets see where our main characters here happens to be.

[Gets a chocolate cake and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: A young couple, Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) and Gemma (Imogen Poots) want to purchase a house and move in. Both are not married, but looks forward to start a new life together soon. For the same, they visit an estate agent, Martin (Jonathan Aris), who seems to be acting strange, but comes up with a special offer for them. According to him, a new development known as Yonder might be perfect for a young couple who is trying to begin a new life far away from the busy city life. The place which as a series of homes looking almost the same, seems to be beautiful, and at the same time, silent, empty with no house seemingly occupied, and also giving the feeling of being out of the world. Martin shows the couple around house number nine and then they cannot find him around. Gemma and Tom try to leave Yonder, but however they keep moving, they end up in front of the same house. The car eventually runs out of fuel and they are forced to stay in house number nine.

So, what happens with the events here? :: They try to go up to the roof of the building and see if they can have a better look, but there is only an unlimited of series of similar houses to be seen, and nothing else. All houses seem so perfectly identical, and even the sky looks the same everywhere, with the clouds also being perfectly shaped. As they looked towards infinity, they decide to follow the perfect sun-like thing by jumping over walls of the houses, going in a straight line. But that also leaves them at the same place. Then at home, they find food items and groceries being delivered. But soon, they find a little boy being delivered – “Raise the child and be released” – the message written on the delivery box said so, and they begin to think that it is their only way to escape. At the same time, Tom also begins to dig of a pit hoping to escape underground, as there is no other way to go. Can the couple escape from this seemingly impossible situation? Or will they be stuck there forever? What is with this child who seems to be growing up faster than normal?

The defence of Vivarium :: The movie keeps its mystery elements strong, and it arouses the curiosity of the audience with ease, and as it gets into such an environment very early, we are also into it guessing soon enough. This time, it is a kid who is at the centre of everything, and you remember the other kids who were indeed dangerous, including Orphan and The Prodigy. Lord of the Flies proved it with a group of kids, while The Room had another kind of child, with The Influence having a child becoming a nightmare. The movie shows the dream of buying a villa, and shows how the protagonists are trapped by it. There are many points in the movie which become classic, and its idea of the aliens is nicely divergent. The creepiness here is not in frightening people, and the maze-like structure which the villa becomes, is going to make even a Minotaur proud. After all, we are in such a structure, with no chance to escape, as each and every day brings the same routine, while we are caught in it.

The claws of flaw :: There are areas where Vivarium goes unexplained, and even though it does try to live up to its name, there is not really an attempt to go into that further, or give a stronger feeling about it. The aliens seem to be a little bit clueless about what they are doing too, at a time when all these could have had better explanation that showing a cuckoo growing up – this doesn’t exactly become the same. As the two protagonists have been alone for a long time, there were more that they could have done, and further methods of escape could have also been attempted. The boy here could have also been a little bit threatening rather than remaining annoying all the time – you remember the boy of The Room who was surely developing into a genuine threat. More additions could have been done within the neighbourhood to make it further creepy or rather scary.

Performers of the soul :: Imogen Poots is a highly underrated actress, and she proves to be fantastic yet again in this movie. The audience from this part of the world might know her from Need for Speed, the game-based movie which had her as heroine, looking kind of like Anushka Sharma from an angle or two. There has been many movies with her name with it, but I don’t think that any of them had a theatre release around here, except for, maybe the A-1 cities with big malls, like Chennai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad – maybe cities like Pune and Ahmedabad had them too, but that wouldn’t have attracted much of the audience. The British actress takes this role to perfection, and you can see many situations reflecting the same. Jesse Eisenberg will be known for the audience here for Now You See Me and its sequel as well as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice which were the last big movies of him widely released here, and he also does a fine job. The rest of the cast just gives some good support.

How it finishes :: At a time when people got caught in their homes, or at times the neighbourhood with nowhere to escape, Vivarium becomes a fine reflection, as the protagonists are also facing the same situation. They are left with a house in the neighbourhood, and they can’t go into any other houses around there, and are to spend their time inside with whatever food is being delivered from outside. It does feel like a certain kind of quarantine, but this is the kind from where there is no escape. There is no network coverage on the mobile phone, and the television only shows some strange lines and grains all around. Vivarium doesn’t seem to reach that greatness that it intended, but it is so much close to it. The movie makes us feel our emotions, and make us think about the usual themes about humanity and other species well enough. It is a movie that we should watch, and will like more or a little less according to our tastes. You can feel an experiment, even though not exactly in the form of The Belko Experiment or The Platform.

Release date: 18th May 2019
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Lorcan Finnegan
Starring: Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, Danielle Ryan, Jonathan Aris, Molly McCann, Senan Jennings, Eanna Hardwicke, Come Thiry

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ema

Vampire Owl: I almost didn’t notice the absence of one “M” here.

Vampire Bat: Yes, this is not the Emma we know from the novels or its adaptations.

Vampire Owl: I had guessed the same because this was a Spanish one from Chile.

Vampire Bat: Even though a movie with the real Emma Woodhouse did release this year.

Vampire Owl: Yes, the movie which has the girl from The Witch, right?

Vampire Bat: Yes, Anya Taylor‑Joy who was also seen in Shyamalan’s Split.

Vampire Owl: I haven’t read the Jane Austen novel yet, and that is a disappointment.

Vampire Bat: I would definitely agree to that, because I consider it to be her best work.

Vampire Owl: Even better than Pride and Prejudice, the much appreciated and adapted one?

Vampire Bat: Yes, indeed. My doubt is just regarding this Ema with a missing “M”.

[Gets a beetroot cake and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: Ema (Mariana Di Girolamo) and her husband Gaston (Gael Garcia Bernal) were leading a fine life and had dance as part of their world. But their adopted son Polo (Cristian Suarez) is the big problem which they invited into their life, and he has an attitude bigger than her mother who has already been strange enough as far as Gaston is concerned. The boy was becoming more and more violent every day, and had caused a fire which had burned the face of Ema’s sister. Polo was not asked to change, but was sent back to the orphanage from where he came from, but Ema just can’t stop thinking about him, even though Gaston blames her for making the boy what he had become. They do not hate each other yet, but are not able to stop blaming each other for the situation where they had reached, from a premise which was good enough for both. It has been a long way down, and it was achieved too quickly.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Ema is quick to begin some new relationships, as she plans to file for a divorce, and the lawayer she chooses is Raquel (Paola Giannini). At the same time, she becomes very close to Anibal (Santiago Cabrera), a firefighter, and she also begins to live with Sonia (Giannina Fruttero), leaving her husband behind after a talk related to the boy who set fire to the house. She had also left the dance troupe run by her husband, and Sonia was with her along with a few friends in doing the same, as they begin dancing in the streets, following the form which her husband considered to be inferior. They find joy in the same, while Ema plans to get closer to Polo, even though the child security services forbids her from going anywhere near him, as he is now adopted by a new family where he is having a good life. But Ema is not someone who would stay behind, as she has her own plans with her life, and would stop at nothing to get what she wants. But will she choose the right path for the same?

The defence of Ema :: Whenever you look at the movie, it is a visually beautifully thing, whether the dance moves or the world which they live in – the flames are also as beautiful as it can get. The world is full of some lovely colours, and the streets with the buildings have some special charm – this is the first movie from Chile that most of us would be watching, even though we might have watched Spanish flicks from Spain and Argentina before, and in that case, this is a special experience too. The dance moves are particularly charming, as the lead character is specialized in the same, along with her friends too. The music is also lovely. There is the idea of parenting and motherhood being talked about, even though the mother-son relationship remains strange throughout the movie’s run. The twists happening throughout the movie which comes to that even more weird end is indeed a satisfactory thing. There is that wonderfully strange feeling which runs through here.

The claws of flaw :: The movie might feel too strange for most of the people, and it does travel a twisted path which doesn’t really bring the justification or poetic justice as one would expect to have. There is no positive message given here even though you did feel that there would be something coming up soon. The flick also feels rather indirect on many occasions. You also see that it is difficult to care for the characters here, and the motives are rather strange, not just for the main character, but also for a kid. We don’t really like the people in here, and when it applies to so many people, we will see this to be too uncommon. Some characters just feel unnecessary in the scheme of things. The manipulation seen here seems to be too complex as well as strange. It is also the kind of movie which cannot be put into any category. Some of the imagery are rather going too far, and a few of the dialogues could have been avoided.

Performers of the soul :: You just cannot take your eyes off Mariana Di Girolamo playing the titular character Ema here. We have a very complex character here, but she has made it feel perfect, and with the dance moves she has further perfection in moving her body around with the delightful music. She seems to be come the character with such precision that if we look at her on Google otherwise, it feels that she is an entirely different person, nothing from her beyond the movie coming into this particular character. Gael Garcia Bernal has a lesser role in comparison, and he manages that fine. This makes Paola Giannini the next person whom we get to focus on, and she is lovely as her character who goes through another path, but nicely has herself attached to the main character with the help of a little bit of manipulation. She is also joy to watch, while Giannina Fruttero seems to play another character which has some more change than one would expect – we see her contributions to be delightful too, as female characters score high in this movie, thanks to the performances.

How it finishes :: Not to be confused with Jane Austen’s Emma, this Ema comes with something very much divergent when you look at many other movies which have dealt with a premise like this, with an adopted child as the centre of attraction. The film’s biggest advantages are its visuals, music and an unpredictable character in the centre who is more than what meets the eye. Ema might not be the movie for everyone, but it is the kind of film that we would consider to be a successful experiment, even with its troubles which comes from the same areas where it has its positives. Chile is another South American country that you feel the need to visit, and you get to see some of it in this movie, even though the film doesn’t go on to show us the glorious side much – until we visit those charming areas like Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral, Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts, Sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception on San Cristobal Hill and many others, we will be happy with having watched one Chilean movie, and another Spanish film to the credit.

Release date: 26th September 2019
Running time: 102 minutes
Directed by: Pablo Larrain
Starring: Mariana Di Girolamo, Gael Garcia Bernal, Paola Giannini, Santiago Cabrera, Giannina Fruttero, Josefina Fiebelkorn, Paula Hofmann, Paula Luchsinger, Antonia Giesen, Catalina Saavedra, Mariana Loyola, Susana Hidalgo, Cristian Felipe Suarez

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Proxima

Vampire Owl: Have you heard about the vampire team planning to travel to Proxima Centauri?

Vampire Bat: No, such a plan was discarded after Doctor Frankenstein created a portal and ended up being crazy for three weeks.

Vampire Owl: It is depressing, because vampire space travel was only beginning to get popular.

Vampire Bat: You could have some temporary relief by watching a movie on space travel.

Vampire Owl: This one seems to be drama and not really science fiction.

Vampire Bat: Drama is more close to life than science fiction as far as humans are concerned.

Vampire Owl: I wouldn’t disagree with that statement. They always create some drama.

Vampire Bat: It is also the one reason why humans stopped evolving.

Vampire Owl: I do feel that they can still evolve like some of the alien species which we had met while traveling through one of those portals.

Vampire Bat: Well, lets see how far they can go and fight their own upcoming extinction.

[Gets a carrot cake and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: Sarah Loreau (Eva Green) is preparing herself for a one-year mission aboard the International Space Station, after different stages of training on Earth, and a final quarantine which would follow. She is very excited about it, as she finally had the chance which she was waiting for, throughout these years. She had kept so many things away just for this special opportunity which rarely comes to her field. But her daughter Stella Akerman Loreau (Zelie Boulant-Lemesle) is certainly not even close to being happy about it. She does like the idea that her mother is going to the stars, but hates the fact that she has to leave her for such a long period of time, first out of the nation and then far away from Earth itself. This would mean that Stella and her cat would have to stay in a new house in a new neighbourhood in a distant city, with her father Thomas Akerman (Lars Eidinger) as the parents had separated, despite falling in love while working at the same space agency.

So, what happens with the events here? :: But things have to go as planned, and they have to follow the procedure, as she has qualified with great difficulty, and now there will be no replacement in her place. Sarah leaves for further training, much to the dismay of Stella who is left to adjust with the new home and the new school were she keeps struggling with Mathematics and also in making new friends, being a new loner. At the same time, Sarah has some initial struggles with keeping up, and her colleague from the United States, Mike Shannon (Matt Dillon) considers her to be more of a space tourist, as he is a war veteran who has served in Irag and Afghanistan. But he does appreciate her hard work as time progresses, but as she develops an infection in a new wound, Sarah has further struggles to go with. At the same time, the bond between the mother and daughter which was very strong and special seems to be having some cracks here and there. Now, Sarah has to keep up both her lives going, and it is a question whether she can do the same.

The defence of Proxima :: As one would expect, the movie thrives in the work of Eva Green, who excels as the astronaut mother who struggles to keep the two sides of her life going. The movie serves as a reflection of anyone who is trying to seek new heights, but cannot let go of the old world to which the person belongs to. The training sequences are nice, and the emotional moments are all in control, with everything safely handled by Eva herself, for this is her movie. As the movie was shot in different original training facilities of the European Space Agency, everything feels more real, just like the feelings. The movie’s progress is also steady, even though we are given the idea of what to expect in the beginning stages itself. As the movie chooses to go realistic over everything else, we do have the interesting family drama which depicts the mother-daughter relationship without much of a trouble. In the same, there is quality guaranteed.

The claws of flaw :: Proxima had scope to be something more, with both its dramatic side and it could have been an action thriller of a lesser level too, with more twists being added to the training sessions and time of quarantine. People who are looking for some science fiction are going to be disappointed, because the same is not there, and we can say the same about the action and thriller side too. It could have also had more of emotional moments together, and there could have been more of bonding scenes between the astronauts in the facility. The fact that it keeps changing the language in between is a little bit strange, as it remaining a French movie with English subtitles would have been fair enough. It could have also used some flashback to add to the tale, because our protagonist here does seem to have had a long interesting past. If it had used all the elements perfectly, there was chance for a flawless film here, but Proxima does come somewhat close.

Performers of the soul :: With birthday on the 6th of July, it is a good time to give Eva Green some lovely birthday wishes, as she is one actress who has been special throughout her career, reminding us of some fine roles which she had played so well – this movie is not that much of an exception in that case too. The lovely actress has that kind of movies in her list which I have loved to watch, with the last few being my personal favourite Dark Shadows, the grand sequel 300: Rise of an Empire, the much different Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children to be added to the list. She is fantastic in this movie, and we see the emotions running wild on one side, and the determination of the character on the other – Eva is delightful to watch in this film too, and she carries the movie on her shoulders with so much of ease. Zelie Boulant who plays the daughter also comes up with a fine performance. Matt Dillon does a fine job in the supporting role too. The rest just working along, as this one is indeed the Eva Green show from the first moment to the time when the credits starts rolling.

How it finishes :: It is no surprise that Proxima‘s biggest asset is Eva Green, and the same is reflected throughout the flick, with the focus never really shifting from her, as she brings the magnificent performance to elevate this movie to where it would have been, with another actress in her place. But those who watch this movie should note that it is not science fiction unlike some idea being given here. As the movie stays as close to a realistic world as possible even with an upcoming space travel, Proxima does deliver a strong drama which works with the mother-daughter relationship very well. It is the kind of movie that one can choose to watch during Eva Green’s birthday week, and the French actress’ work is reason enough to go for it. If you are going for science fiction in space or other planets, we do have those other titles, and expecting a Gravity, Interstellar or The Martian in this case will be wrong, as the tendency will be there as people see the lady wearing the spacesuit on the poster, but that is just one side of the tale.

Release date: 27th November 2019
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed by: Alice Winocour
Starring: Eva Green, Matt Dillon, Zelie Boulant, Lars Eidinger, Sandra Huller, Aleksey Fateev, Nancy Tate, Svetlana Nekhoroshikh, Anna Sherbinina, Vitaly Jay, Lionel Ferra, Manuela Aguzzi, Gregoire Colin, Trond-Erik Vassal

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pinocchio

Vampire Owl: I know this person very well from childhood itself.

Vampire Bat: It is a fictional character from the children’s novel The Adventures of written by the Italian writer Carlo Collodi of Florence.

Vampire Owl: Okay, so it is from the land of Renaissance indeed,

Vampire Bat: Yes, most people don’t really know that this tale is not really English.

Vampire Owl: But it went on to become so popular all around the world.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is that kind of a story that appeals to everyone.

Vampire Owl: And it is a fine story to read for the children of all ages.

Vampire Bat: We also add an Italian movie dealing with the same story to our list on this day.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that this one will become a fine deviation from our usual path.

Vampire Bat: Yes, and takes us back to childhood too, at least in parts.

[Gets a green apple cake and three glasses of blackcurrant shake].

What is the movie about? :: Geppetto (Roberto Benigni), a poor Italian carpenter has a hard time making his living, as he rarely gets any work, and nobody appreciates him for the quality products which he come up with. But one day, he sees a puppet theatre in the town, and becomes a lot interested in creating a puppet all by himself. He feels that he could create something special which would be appreciated all around the world for its beauty on wood. He manages to get a log of wood which its owner wanted to leave behind because it seemed to have some kind of magic associated with it. Geppetto spends all his time creating the perfect puppet, and in the end, when he finishes the same, he finds out that it can talk. After naming the puppet Pinocchio (Federico Ielapi), he decides to take him as his son. But the newfound son out of the log isn’t really an obedient one, as he keeps exercising his freedom against the wishes of his father.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Pinocchio does get into trouble due to his actions, and Geppetto decides to send him to school, so that he would study well and also mingle with the other children of the town. Geppetto sells his inherited jacket to buy Pinocchio an ABC book which is necessary to accepted into the school. Pinocchio does go for his first day at school, but notices a puppet theater, and he ends up selling the book to buy the ticket. In the theater, the other puppets notice Pinocchio among the viewers and calls him up the stage, thus messing up the show. A furious puppeteer Mangiafuoco (Gigi Proietti) catches Pinocchio and locks him in his caravan with the others puppets, and leaves the town. Mangiafuoco who has been very angry about what had happened, plans to use Pinocchio as firewood to help cooking his dinner. Pinocchio begs him to release him in order to return home from his father, who would be very much worried by then.

And what else is to follow around here with the puppet? :: Mangiafuoco decides to let him go, and seeing his compassion towards the other puppets who he saves from being burned, he gives him five gold coins to give to the poor carpenter whom he calls father. Pinocchio is really happy about it, and tries to get home as soon as possible, but is lost in his way, not sure where he is heading. As he tries to find the right directions, he meets Fox (Massimo Ceccherini) and Cat (Rocco Papaleo) who discovers that the puppet has some gold coins with him which they can use during their jobless ways. They tell him a tale about the Field of Miracles, a special place where they can bury the coins, and a tree full of money will grow rapidly. But they intend to murder the puppet and take the money. They make some fine plans for the same, and takes a room in the nearby tavern. Pinocchio is not aware of such sinister plans, and despite being warned by Talking Cricket (Davide Marotta). Can the puppet keep the money and finally get to his father who is looking for him?

The defence of Pinocchio :: The movie, as expected is a journey to a special world, and those who have known the tale before, will relate to the same very well. There is a beautiful world that provides a certain amount of enchantment close to the original version, and we have one puppet who is not familiar with the ways of humans going through. Roberto Benigni whom we know from the movie Life is Beautiful is here again playing the father figure, and that is indeed beautiful, as we remember how he managed to be a great father there – here, he is not far behind either. The one who used his imagination to shield his son from the terror within a Nazi concentration camp is not to be forgotten that easily. Marine Vacth who plays the fairy and many others also catch our attention, being out of the usual world, getting close to fantasy. With the cat, fox, snail, cricket, characters, the movie is as child-friendly as anything can get, and therefore makes itself a fine watch for the families. Well, a journey through rural Italy of those times never really gets to be less interesting for the eyes.

The claws of flaw :: Pinocchio might be different in looks from what many people might have imagined him earlier. The movie could have had a certain amount of visible magic in there too, not as being regular part of the proceedings, but as something completely out of the world. For the same, more special effects could have been used to create a visual extravaganza, because even lesser films these days seem to display the grandeur – after all, this is a children’s classic of a higher level on print. The fact that the puppet keeps falling into trouble due to not listening to the good advice makes it feel repetitive, especially for the adults who would be a long way past this tale by now – even I don’t remember most of what I read during my childhood. It could have also had more focus on the father-son relationship because the puppet as the adventurer is not of that much interest as a person, and we have to look forward to the fairy to find the next lovable character, followed by the snail. The growing nose could have also been used better.

How it finishes :: As far as the idea of Pinocchio from The Adventures of Pinocchio by the Italian author Carlo Collodi is concerned, this one manages the same well, and it is to be noted that usually the adaptations are supposed to come in the form of cartoons. Making a live-action movie with this type of characters is indeed difficult, but we can see that they have managed everything pretty well here. The Adventures of Pinocchio has been the world’s most translated book excluding religious works and had such a great impact on different cultures, also being a children’s favourite. But we see that it also explores the human condition, about what it means to be human, right here. We do have that usual child who doesn’t like to go to the school, and is not interested in obeying parents, with a certain love for entertainment and adventure over the rest, and is naive when facing the dangers of the outside world. Yes, this version is a successful one too, and you can choose to watch it, without expecting anything too special or highly innovative.

Release date: 19th December 2019
Running time: 125 minutes
Directed by: Matteo Garrone
Starring: Roberto Benigni, Federico Ielapi, Rocco Papaleo, Massimo Ceccherini, Marine Vacth, Gigi Proietti, Paolo Graziosi, Massimiliano Gallo, Maria Pia Timo, Davide Marotta, Alessio Di Domenicantonio

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✠ The Vampire Bat.

Anveshanam

What is the movie about? :: Aravind (Jayasurya) and Kavitha (Sruthy Ramachandran) are living a happy life in one of those skyscrapers of the city with their two children. Their family seems to be the one perfect world, as their neighbour and close family friend Dr. Gowtham (Vijay Babu) says. There is the smell of a fairy-tale happily ever after, all around there. But one day, their son, Ashwin is hospitalized, and he is supposed to have fallen off the stairs of the apartment. It is Gowtham and Kavitha who brings him to the hospital, while Aravind was spending his time alone after a fight in the television channel where he was working. Dr. Ashok (Srikanth Murali) makes no delay in admitting the boy and trying to save his life, but the head nurse, Sony (Lena) has a doubt regarding the marks found on the boy’s body, and she couldn’t stop herself from informing the police.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Sony suspects that the boy was brutally beaten, and it was a case of child abuse. As she herself was a victim of abuse as a child, she wastes no time in labeling this one in the same way. Latha (Leona Lishoy) and Alphonse (Nandhu) are the police officers on the case, with the former into a few months of pregnancy. They have a list of suspects starting with Aravind who had left office early without telling anyone, and had also visited his apartment. The descriptions provided by Kavitha and Gowtham also do not match one another. The hospital also seems to neglecting some facts, as the boy finally dies, things get even more complicated. The Dr. Faris (Lal) enters the scene from the side of the police to examine things further, and this complex sequence of events need an explanation before next morning – can it be done?

The defence of Anveshanam :: The movie, as expected, begins well, and brings the idea into focus very soon. There are many chances of interesting guesses to be made, as we know the main characters who are put into a situation in a hospital. We are beginning to suspect too many people, from the father and mother, to the neighbour, from the nurse to the doctor, who are all acting strange, and something fishy is going on there, as the police also begins to suspect. As the unsettling atmosphere is built early, and things begin quickly, there is an interesting journey here towards the interval, from where everything slows down and drags. It is only then that we realize that the movie could have risen further with its theme, but stays with a safe zone to which not many people can connect in the right way. But the performances eclipse the same at most parts.

The claws of flaw :: The movie losses its strength in the second half, as it moves from the investigative suspense thriller to a melodramatic and preachy family piece. It struggles to focus on what could have been its strengths, and ends with confusion, as its final moments did show signs of weariness. The movie had the premise and the idea, while the trailer could nicely create interest in the mind of audience. It is when the idea came on the screen, that it never really got its characters going well enough, even though there are many interesting ones. It couldn’t prove its point either, despite trying to go preachy – it could have at least justified its title and went on with the investigation to find what exactly they were searching for. But the movie by the end, decides to go to the middle of nowhere, and declares it fit to sit in no man’s land with some verbal gun shots all around.

The performers of the soul :: Jayasurya once again leads the way, and here we have his presence in a thriller, and as a father figure, this calls for a different approach with a mystery needed to be brought to light. He is not The Great Father kind of father who spends time in wearing fancy jackets and beating up people, and we don’t have that kind of an irritating gun loving strange character of a girl here, and that is the first case of relief which we have here. We have loved his ways of solving mysteries in Pretham and Pretham 2, but this one has his character in a crisis rather than the one solving it. The man who is still best remembered for Aadu has one more serious flick for which he will be remembered as the sole lead – other than Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam and a few others. Anjaam Pathiraa had Kunchacko Boban bringing one thing, and Jayasurya here continues that journey through the drama, but at the receiving end.

Further performers of the soul :: Shruti Ramachandran was seen in Sunday Holiday as the earlier love interest of the main character, and also in Pretham where she played ghost who was haunting a beach side resort and looking for revenge. Here, she has a bigger and stronger role to perform and one would remember this even more. Lena also remains strong, but her character stays underdeveloped despite supposed to be having such a trouble past and childhood. Vijay Babu is very good in the emotional sequences, and Leona Lishoy goes through a pretty good run. Lal is there only for what can be termed as an extended cameo. Nandhu also adds well in a pretty good police role. Srikanth Murali plays the doctor well, as he is the one who becomes the centre of attraction as he treats the boy who is supposed to have fallen from the stairs, a case which leads to all the drama.

How it finishes :: After Anjaam Pathiraa, the audience was expecting another top level investigation thriller, but what we see here is an investigation drama, which seems to have some nice ideas, but is not displayed that well on the screen – this could have become better as a short story, like Roald Dahl’s Lamb to the Slaughter, something which had a crime and what followed with the weapon used for murder. But instead, Anveshanam tries to be many things at ones, and also tries to be too preachy in the end – it is what makes this interesting premise struggle as it moves towards the end. Still, the movie is to be watched for how it builds the tension and suspense within limited space, and while being set in a few hours of time, almost sticking to the Aristotlean Unities except for those multiple flashbacks which keep coming.

Release date: 31st January 2020
Running time: 102 minutes
Directed by: Prasobh Vijayan
Starring: Jayasurya, Leona Lishoy, Shruti Ramachandran, Vijay Babu, Lal, Lena, Nandhu, Jai Vishnu, Shaju K S, Srikanth Murali

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✠ The Vampire Bat.